Taking a break from Vinitaly, you must visit one of the most beautiful and charming cities in Italy: Verona.
The Italian Eye Magazine invites you to start your journey from Piazza Bra, one of the most impressive urban masterpieces of the city.
PIAZZA BRA AND THE ARENA
Piazza Bra astonishes for its grandeur and for its brightness. Its particular form is defined by two millennia of history. In Piazza Bra all the styles, though different from each other, live together happily and harmoniously. The Arena is the symbol of the city, and the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world. Having become a thorough international symbol of Italy abroad, it dominates Piazza Bra. Since 1913 the Arena has been hosting the opera season, as well as pop and rock concerts.
Castelvecchio is one of the most prestigious monuments of the city, and the undisputed symbol of the finest Veronese period. The castle is located on the first loop of the Adige River, and it was built in the XIV century by the Della Scala (or Scaligeri) family. The castle, which was originally called San Martino, took the name of Castelvecchio when Galeazzo Visconti built the new castle of San Felice. After the damages suffered during World War II, the castle was restored. During the restoration work, the remains of the ancient church of San Martino were rediscovered, and now the site houses the Municipal Museum and a magnificent library. Both are definitely worth a visit.
The Scaligeri family built a connecting bridge that departs from Castelvecchio Arsenale: Ponte Scaligero. This bridge offers one of the most evocative views of Verona, with its three massive arches surmounting the Adige. The white stones surrounded by the typical red bricks railing against the green hills, make this monument one of the most iconic of Verona. From the bridge the view of the church of St. George is simply amazing.
PORTA BORSARI AND ARCO DEI GAVI
Leaving Castelvecchio and turning down Corso Cavour, you’ll come across the Arco dei Gavi, a great testimony of Roman Verona. At the end of Corso Cavour there’s Porta Borsari, a Roman gate built in the late first century. Here were the marketeers of the bishop to pocket the duties on the goods. Today expertly restored, it leads through the two arches in Piazza Erbe.
You are now in Piazza Erbe, the old groceries market where today you may find a bit of everything. Piazza Erbe is the living room where Verona welcomes its visitors, perfect to enjoy an afternoon tea at the historic Caffè Dante, or a Filippini, the historic Veronese aperitif, at Caffè Filippini. In Piazza Erbe you may also have a delicious lunch or dinner at the Maffei Restaurant, a prestigious elite restaurant with an equally prestigious wine list.
PIAZZA DEI SIGNORI
From Piazza Erbe you can reach Piazza dei Signori. At its center stands the statue of Dante, who in Verona was the guest of Bartolomeo della Scala. The square is faced by many interesting historical buildings: the Town Hall, the Scala Palace of the Captain of the Courts, the Loggia del Consiglio and the Loggia di Fra Giocondo. Over the arches of the loggia you can have a break in the beautiful Renaissance house that hosts Caffè Dante. From here, climb the Torre dei Lamberti, where the view over Verona is breathtaking.
Among the many things to visit in Verona, the Arche Scaligere are one of the most prestigious monuments. They were the tombs of the Della Scala, lords of Verona from 1260 to 1387. The Arche is one of the most interesting examples of Gothic sculpture in Verona, dating back to the middle of the XIV century. Alongside the Arche are the house of Romeo Montecchi, a fourteenth-century building, unfortunately not open to the public, and the Ristorante Alle Arche, a refined and elegant historic Veronese restaurant, just a short walk from Juliet’s House.
A favorite destination among tourists from all over the world is Juliet’s House, Shakespeare’s legendary heroine. Inside the small courtyard, intimate and cozy, are the legendary balcony and statue of Juliet. At the entrance arch of the house stands the coat of arms of the Guelph family Cappelletti (Capulet), which is said to be the family that inspired Shakespeare image of his Juliet. A few steps away is the house of Romeo, which belonged to the Ghibellines family of Monticoli (Montecchi). It is said that every day Romeo used to cross the Botanical Garden to reach the house of Juliet and declare his love under the famous balcony. Whether true or not, it’s a must to enjoy all the charm of this place.
The Cathedral of Verona is a breathtaking beauty. Of Romanesque origin, it was rebuilt in the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Among the most prestigious works of art that you can see inside the cathedral are the paintings of Cignaroli, Morone, Falconetto and Brusasorzi. Also, do not miss the cloister and the adjoining Chapter Library.
Giusti Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy. Originally, it was designed as an Italian garden, and then was transformed into an English one. Among its most illustrious visitors there’re Goethe, Scipione Maffei, Joseph Addison, who praised the spectacular appearance, plaques and sculptures, in addition to the magnificent row of cypress trees leading to the hill.
PONTE PIETRA AND ROMAN THEATER
Ponte Pietra is the only remaining Roman bridge in town, dating back to a period just before the august age and consisting of five arches. The bridge was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but was expertly rebuilt using the source material. Ponte Pietra also offers a beautiful view of the Roman Theater and Castel San Pietro.
The Roman Theater is one of the most beautiful Roman buildings to see in Verona. It’s home to the summer festival, which reunites theater, music and dance, and it’s very appreciated by Veronese and tourists.
WHERE TO STAY IN VERONA
Due Torri Hotel
Nested in the XIII century Palazzo dell’Aquila, this 5 stars hotel offers a signature Veronese stay. Each of the 89 rooms has its customised details, together with authentic Biedermeier or Empire style furnitures. A brand new rooftop terrace adds one of the most outstanding view of the city center.
But the crown jewel of the hotel is surely the restored Arena Cesarini, a frescoed hall with circus-inspired art that dates back to early 900s. Today it sets up the precious entrance to the Due Torri Lounge & Restaurant.
Piazza Sant’Anastasia 4
tel. +39 045 595044
WHERE TO EAT
Locanda dei Capitani
Right in the heart of Verona and its history, here’s the typical cuisine rooted in the traditions of the city. At the Locanda dei Capitani, grandma’s recipes are reinvented with a touch of innovation, to make them simpler and lighter.
Piazza dei Signori, 5 \ 7
tel. +39 045 594605
A setting reminiscent of the millennial history surrounding it. The restaurant is located in the Cardinal’s eponymous palace from the 17th century, in Piazza delle Erbe. The palace, among the most famous of ancient Verona aristocracy, owns a winery surrounded by the ancient ruins of the Roman Capitol, the perfect place for wine tastings and one of the most equipped in Italy.
Piazza delle Erbe, 38
tel. +39 045 0810015
Ristorante Alle Arche
A short walk from Juliet’s Balcony and from the house of Romeo, the restaurant offers a beautiful location and a long culinary tradition.
Via Arche Scaligere, 6
tel. +39 045 8007415